Substantial research about dog depression and anxiety is few and far between, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t trust your instincts if you think your dog is suffering.
We know from many studies that humans experience depression, especially if there is a low level of serotonin in the brain. There are endless amounts of medications, therapists and natural remedies out there, but what about dogs? How do you prevent and treat dog depression?
To know your treatment options, first determine what is causing your dog’s change in mood.
There are many different factors in a dog’s mental state. Dogs are pretty good at letting us know what they need, and most of the time humans just need to pay a little extra attention to their expressions and body language to understand why they’re depressed. Has your dog been lethargic? Is her tail always tucked in, and her usually perky ears, down? This type of body language is a pretty sure sign that something is bothering them.
Another noticeable sign is when a potty trained pet starts peeing in the house. Accidents like these are more common when a new pet is introduced to your home since they may be trying to mark their territory. Sometimes it’s medical, but it can also be a form of behavioral defiance.
Did you recently introduce a new pet to your home? Have you moved or had a change in family members? Dogs are like people and have thoughts and feelings about situations, too. They may not agree with the changes you’ve made, which can lead to situational anxiety and depression. Sometimes change is out of our control, so it’s important to make sure you don’t ignore your dog or her feelings. A little empathy goes a long way when it comes to dog depression.
If you suspect dog depression, adhere to a strict schedule with feedings, bathroom breaks, and playtime. Pay close attention to their behavioral changes, and even keep a journal to track their progress. If you notice that a routine and extra care is getting you nowhere, it’s best to call your veterinarian to explore other options. You can try new toys and treats, but make sure not to reward depressive behavior.
Dogs will act depressed if they are hurt, or something is wrong. It’s important to have them checked out for any ailments or injuries as soon as possible. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, and in almost every case, treatment is a lot easier when medical problems are discovered early on.
Speaking of being ignored, that is another sign your dog may be depressed according to Cesar Milan’s blog. Do you notice that Fido is a little harder to find these days always hiding under beds and in closets? That’s just one symptom of depression. Also look out for:
- Excessive licking
- Lack of appetite
- No desire to drink
- Weight loss or gain
- Lack of activity or interest in play time
- Excessive sleeping
It’s possible that dog depression is a factor.
Call your vet right away and get your dog into a routine. If natural treatments don’t work your vet may consider options like Prozac to get them through this rough stage. While medication is not always recommended or even necessary, it is sometimes beneficial for dog depression. One should not rely solely on medication for any animal ailment, but combined with other healthy habits like diet and exercise it can make a difference for some pets and their owners.
Have you experienced dog depression? Share your story in the comments.
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